Panama

Climate

For a very small country Panama has a surprisingly varied climate. It is quite clearly in the tropics and parts of the country experience just two seasons a year, a wet and a dry. The dry season is winter from December to May whereas the summer is the rainy season from May to December. The detailed climate statistics for two locations given on this web site show the rainfall patterns clearly and there is a ten degree difference in the temperatures between the places. It is also explained why the rainfall is of such economic importance to the country. Astonishingly it is not for agricultural reasons. The canal is a viable waterway only because of the high precipitation of about 8 feet or 2500 millimetres annually.

These statistics provide the bare facts of the Panama climate but for a more visual appreciation some of the tourist sites are better. Even more interesting, combining the visually attractive and the descriptive, is this web site. From the retirees’ point of view it is possible to choose the climate which is personally most desirable. The hot and humid coastal areas, including Panama City, can be avoided in the hills in places such as Volcán in Chiriqui Province near the Costa Rican border at an altitude of over 5,000 feet or 1,500 metres. Flooding, especially flash floods, may be expected with the high rainfall falling in heavy short thunderstorms. This not usually a problems in areas which have been settled.

Finding a microclimate of your choice is clearly not a problem in Panama. This is important because the climate can have big effect the cost of living. Electricity used to provide air conditioning, very necessary in Panama City, is expensive.

Time

Natural or Sun time is a function of the earth’s rotation on its axis. As the earth turns from west to east so the Sun rises later in locations west of any given location. Amanda Briney describes the relationship between longitude and time in more detail than is needed here. There are a number of web sites that allow a display of time at various places around the world.

Panama is a small country with only a short east-west width and does not, therefore, cross time zones. A useful facility for keeping track of time can be found at the Worldtimeserver.com site. However, the World Clock remains a "standard" in this field of information. Another site presenting this kind of data in yet another way is at this site.

Both the information on this site at the "Resources" tab and the book How to Retire in Panama" by Les Johns explore the topics of climate and time. The book can be puchased directly from this site.